Launched in 2020, the £2bn Kickstart scheme offers people aged 18-24 paid work placements and Wirral Chamber has so far helped create 500 openings with more than 100 companies. Tony McDonough reports
More than 500 work placement opportunities at over 100 Merseyside companies have been created by Wirral Chamber of Commerce under the Government’s Kickstart programme.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the Kickstart scheme in summer 2020 as part of his Plan for Jobs. It offers fully-funded six-month jobs placements for young people aged 18 to 24 who are in receipt of Universal Credit. It offers either Minimum or National Living Wage.
Wirral Chamber became and approved gateway provider for the scheme and, as of March, has offered more than 500 placements with more than 100 businesses. Roles include finance, customer services, teaching, marketing, engineering and hospitality.
The chamber identified that there was a potential gap as sole traders and partnerships could not apply for the scheme, and as such this would mean that these exclusions meant a huge number of missed opportunities.
It can offer access to the scheme as it is also an approved Kickstart Gateway Plus provider – only one of two organisations nationwide. This means that the chamber employs the young people and then ‘places’ them within those businesses or organisations which are able to offer work placement opportunities.
Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber, said, “This is such a hugely significant scheme. Over the past 12 months the pandemic has had a critical impact on the employment prospects of many, but in particular for those 18 to 24-year olds.
“We must develop work and skill opportunities and, through the Kickstart scheme, SMEs that may have been excluded, can provide much-needed opportunities to young people. We are delighted at the success of the scheme so far and to be the first chamber in the country approved as a Gateway Plus.”
Employers can spread the start date of the job placements up until the end of December 2021. Further funding is available for training and support so that young people on the scheme can get a job in the future.
Ethan Mair a Kickstart coordinator at Wirral Chamber, added: “Kickstart has been the perfect way for me to get into a job position that I have a genuine interest in, and the entire process was made easy by the very supportive team at Wirral Chamber of Commerce.
“It is proving to be an incredibly valuable experience and I cannot recommend the scheme highly enough for anyone looking to get a start in a position they can learn from and enjoy.”